Too Busy

“I am so busy,” “I just have so much to do,” “I don’t have enough time”; how many times have we all said that? It happens to me more often than I would like. In one week, there are 168 hours, and it often feels as though they pass within the blink of an eye. Where does the time go, and why can’t I seem complete the things I need to do? Most of us have a litany of items to be accomplished daily that may not have anything to do with our job. Items that include picking up groceries, calling the plumber, e-mailing the team to schedule the monthly conference call, checking on the plane tickets for the upcoming family vacation, dropping off dry cleaning, and making the daughter’s dental appointment….. can literally go on forever! When these items are not accomplished and carried over from day to day, it begins to make us feel ineffective and create stress.

Being mindful about the decisions we make and what we can change in order to improve our overall health and wellness is important. Here are a few tips to assist with the dreaded “B” word and how to be more effective in our actions. The “B” word is busy for those who did not get it.

#1 Set Realistic Goals

One of the largest obstacles to our perpetual busyness is the fact that we have unrealistic goals. Having a to-do list with more items than any person could possibly complete in 24 hours is a sure way to feel like you are always behind on your tasks. In order to meet our goals, we have to be realistic about what can be done. Your daily tasks list should not exceed more than two major tasks (If a task has more than two steps to complete or takes more than an hour, that is a major task!) and three minor items for a total of FIVE items. I can hear some of your hearts beating faster at the thought of only having five items on your ‘To-Do” list. The truth is, you will feel better when you accomplish the things you set out to do. You can compile a “MAIN” list with 100 things on it, but from that list only allow five things “to do” on any particular day.

#2 Analyze and Prioritize Task

After you make your “To Do” list for the day, assess each of your five tasks and answer a couple of questions:

A) Can I delegate this task to anyone? If you can, do it!

B) What will be the consequence if it is not accomplished today? If there is no consequence, leave it for another day!

C) How complicated is the task? Will it take more than two steps or more than an hour…..remember, you should only have two of these major daily tasks.

#3 Manage Your Expectations

When you know that you will have a busier day than usual, try not to have a “To Do” list. For example, when you have two doctor’s appointments tomorrow, which will result in your working late, or your mom and dad are coming over, and you have not cleaned your house yet, then this is not a day that you can accommodate an additional to-do list. Being able to accept a situation for what it is will be beneficial to your mood and stress level.

#4 Use the Tools Available

There are endless tools available to assist us in meeting our goals. For many of us, an old-school to-do list is our tool of choice, others may use a whiteboard in a highly visible area. You can download reminders on our phones, calendar alerts, and dozens of apps specifically designed to help with organizing and planning. Once you have used the previous three steps and you have a realistic, appropriately prioritized list with managed expectations, find one of these tools that work best for you and use it.

Remember, getting our lives in order and reducing stress is not an event but a process.

Dr. Kimberly VanBuren

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